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Polaris 850 Switchback Assault 144 – Pre-ride analysis

Polaris 850 Switchback Assault 144 – Pre-ride analysis 

Two years ago, Polaris was switching the Switchback Assault 144 to the AXYS platform. This chassis replacement completely changed the model’s behavior. I had the chance to try it out in 2017, and again this year I will have the privilege of driving this model, but this time with all the new 850 Patriot engine from Polaris.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to experience the 850 Patriot on several 2019 models, and its performance impressed me a lot. I also did a few kilometers with a prototype of the 850 Switchback Assault, and it was real love at first sight for me (Read…).

Of course, I was pleased to have the opportunity to test this model this winter. 

Let’s now look at the main features of this very popular snowmobile.

Let’s start with the big novelty this year on this model, the 850 Patriot engine. For several years, Polaris engineers have been working on the new engine development. Starting from scratch, they tested several configurations before finally reaching the finish line with a cylinder capacity of 840cc. 


Moteur Polaris 850 Patriot - Motoneige

Although the engineering team had all the flexibility they wanted, they had to keep in mind that the new engine would necessarily have to meet the following three requirements:

  • High durability
  • High acceleration
  • Instant response

To learn more about the 850 Patriot engine, I invite you to read the article “A new engine for Polaris in 2019” that we published last March on SledMagazine.com.

As part of my test, I would first like to make sure that the performance of the series version of the 850 Patriot is as good as the prototypes we tested last spring.

The second point is a little strange on a high-performance engine, but we are frequently asked. It is the use of gasoline and oil in regular use.

The third point is, of course, durability. Even if we only ride the snowmobile for one season, we will focus on this point as well.

Let’s continue our analysis of the characteristics of this snowmobile.

AXYS chassis

Over the past two seasons, the use of the AXYS chassis on the Switchback Assault has been highly appreciated. It is currently one of the most popular hybrid models on the market.

During our tests, we will drive the Switchback Assault in a variety of trail and off-trail conditions. This will allow us to establish if the behavior of the snowmobile is still up to our expectations.

IGX 144 Rear Suspension

One of the elements of this snowmobile that too often goes unnoticed is the IGX 144 rear suspension. It is an uncoupled suspension that offers, according to Polaris, the balance and agility of the RMK off-trail and a super-comfortable ride on the trail.

Suspension IGX - 850 Switchback Assault - Motoneige

Front Suspension

At the front, there is the Walker Evans choc absorber. These shock absorbers offer the possibility to adjust the compression. Over the years, we have appreciated their work.

Suspension avant - 850 Switchback Assault - Motoneige


Still, at the front, the Switchback Assault is equipped with PRO-STEER skis. These skis have a redesigned keel and a shorter beam to reduce steering effort. The ski shoulder is also accentuated to provide more friction surface in deeper snow.

PowderTrac hybrid steps

Polaris is back with PowderTrac steps this year. Even with 56% open space, Polaris says these steps are very robust. Also, their wider and flatter front design promotes comfort when sitting or standing.

AXYS Performance Seat

The seat of the Switchback Assault 144 is narrower at the front to allow the pilot to change his position when turning corners. The material on the top of the seat is don't slip to provide a stable position for the driver. Also, the seat is lighter.

Siège - 850 Switchback Assault - Motoneige

Standard Storage Under AXYS Seat

This snowmobile has a large 1024 cubic inches/16,780 cm3 storage space under the back of the seat. Its design is waterproof and resistant to snow infiltration, as indicated by the manufacturer.

Digital Gauge

The Switchback Assault’s gauge is complete. It offers a wide range of information. It features an LCD monitor that has a 25% larger display area. Also, on the model that has been loaned to us, we have an integrated GPS.

Ensemble cadran numérique - 850 Switchback Assault - Motoneige

Main Control Block

On the left side of the handlebar is the main control block. This one is very well designed. The position of the different switches is natural, and you get used to it quickly.

LED Headlights

All models built on the AXYS® platform has standard LED headlights. LED headlights certainly provide better lighting than standard headlights. The light is whiter, and it offers a practically unlimited lifetime.

Let the season begin!

This summarizes the main features of the 850 Switchback Assault 144 2019. We are very excited to be able to take over the trails and snow-covered areas to observe the performance and behavior of this snowmobile.

Follow us throughout the season to read our articles. 

850 Switchback Assault - Motoneige

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